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The Annals of Penicuik
By John J. Wilson (1891)


DEAR Mr. Cowan,---I dedicate to you this little volume, containing a few brief and imperfect Memorials of the Parish of Penicuik.

To no other could a book dealing with local matters be so fittingly addressed, for your name is indelibly associated with all the social, political, and religious movements of the last fifty years in our Parish.

You are known and will be remembered as one who, above all others, loved our place and its people, and whose heart was ever filled with liberal devising for their welfare.

Believe me to remain,

Respectfully yours,


Few parishes in the Lowlands of Scotland afford scantier materials for the pen of the historian than that of Penicuik. Situated so near to the metropolis of Scotland, it might naturally be expected that it would have been the scene of many stirring events in Scottish story; but such records are sought for in vain.

It lay away from the usual paths of invading armies, and it possessed no rich churches or monasteries to tempt the sacrilegious towards it for plunder. In old times the feudal aristocracy were not, with one exception, men who made any mark in the history of their country, and the place of their abode is undistinguished in son; or story. But while there have been no bloody battles lost or won within its borders, or deeds of heroism done by any of her sons to chronicle, these pages will, I trust, prove that there is much in the history of Penicuik parish, civil and ecclesiastical, that will be of abiding interest to those who can claim it as their birthplace or their home. To many scattered over the world the memory of our village, its river, and the overshadowing hills, must be sweet as an old song. If amidst the palm groves, or the prairies, or the busy marts of other lands, the perusal of these brief annals afford to any an hour or two of pleasant reflection, and strengthen their attachment to the old home from which they first started upon `Life's long race,' the author will be satisfied ; for his purpose in writing this book will, to a large extent, have been gained.

The matter contained in these Annals has been taken from many sources. The following list contains the names of only a few of the authorities consulted :óRegister of the Great Seal, Calendar of Documents relating to Scotland, Pitcairn's Criminal Trials, Register of the Privy Council, Exchequer Rolls, Acts of Parliaments of Scotland, Woodrow, Statistical Accounts of Scotland, Reports of the Society of Antiquaries, Rotuli Scotiae, Chalmers's Caledonia, various publications of the Bannatyne, Abbotsford, and Spalding Clubs, Origines Parochiales (Innes), Forsyth's Beauties of Scotland, Foedera, Dalkeith Presbytery Records, Penicuik Parish Session Records, etc. etc.

I have been much indebted to local friends for freely communicating to me their recollections of past times. I should be ungrateful if I did not also acknowledge the kindness and courtesy of Dr. Dickson of the Register House; James T. Clark, Esq., of the Advocates Library; and J. M. Gray, Esq., Curator of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. I would not be unmindful of the willing assistance I ever received in the Edinburgh Subscription Library from its esteemed librarian, Mr. George M'Whea; and, above all, do I tender my best thanks to the Rev. Alexander Thomson Grant of the Parsonage, Leven, for many valuable contributions from his stores of historical and antiquarian lore, sent me at a time when I did not myself know the sources from which trustworthy information could be obtained.



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